By SUE LEEMAN in Seattlepi.com
LONDON – Britain issued new rules for diplomats Wednesday to stop the publishing of tell-all memoirs such as a recent portrayal of Prime Minister Tony Blair as starstruck and senior ministers as “political pygmies.”
Ministers were chagrined in November when former ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher Meyer published his explosive “D.C. Confidential.” Meyer depicted Blair as starstruck and failing to stand up for Britain in the run-up to the Iraq war, and he described senior Cabinet members as “political pygmies.”
In the memoir, Meyer also told how, as a Downing Street press secretary, he would brief former Conservative Prime Minister John Major as the premier washed and dressed in the morning, sometimes while Major’s wife, Norma, lay in bed.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who has accused Meyer of breaking a trust, published new guidelines Wednesday which specifically prevent Foreign Office staff from “writing anything that would damage the confidential relationship between ministers, or between ministers and officials.” Meyer’s book was submitted to the Cabinet Office which also consulted the Foreign Office before it was published.
Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has published documents he says prove that Britain knowingly received intelligence extracted under torture from prisoners in the former Soviet state. Murray was sacked over the allegations.
The revised guidelines advise that “the good conduct of government requires ministers to have confidence that they can have full and frank discussions with officials, without concern that these may then appear in the public domain.”
A review from The Herald
Enemy Combatant. A British Muslim: Journey to Guantanamo and Back by Moazzam Begg with Victoria Brittain.
On that terrifying night in Islamabad in January 2002, normality drained from the life of Moazzam Begg, reducing him to a non-person. For the next three years he was invisible to all but his captors, his fellow internees and his interrogators, who interviewed him 300 times, never producing evidence of their terrorism accusations, never putting him on trial yet shackling and branding him as an enemy combatant, a threat to the United States.
If the words Guantanamo Bay were not so familiar we might think his was the story of a gulag in Soviet Russia. But it’s an ugly measure of our changed world that violating human rights is no longer the exclusive hallmark of barbarous regimes. It has crept into the unseen corners of George Bush’s war on terror.
One year on from the three in which he was held illegally by the American government ‘ first at the brutal holding camp of Bagram in Afghanistan and finally inside a steel cage at Guantanamo in Cuba ‘ Begg, a British Muslim from Birmingham, publishes his memoir today.
The book, remarkable for its lack of bitterness, coincides with increasing international pressure on the US to close Guantanamo. In Britain, politicians, judges, lawyers, human rights agencies and religious leaders have repeatedly denounced the camp for breaching the Geneva convention on the treatment of